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From Madrid, our correspondent

[7] Carlos Alcaraz b. [1] N. Djokovic 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6 (5)

Charles alcaraz continues to pass the tests on the current high level of his tennis that 2022 offers him: after the titles in Rio, Miami and Barcelona and the match won yesterday against Nadal, win 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6 (5) a wonderful semifinal -That goes straight to the party of the year candidates- against world number 1 Novak Djokovic after three hours and 35 minutes of play. The 19-year-old tennis player from Murcia demonstrates not only that he has already reached very high levels of performance, but also that he is capable of enduring the psychological pitfalls of a long game, played with the great expectations of a stadium that adores him. play well in every part of the field, he has power, touch, a crazy desire to win and knows how to drag the public: This is the fourth edition of the Mutua Madrid Open that we have attended as correspondents and perhaps we have never seen such vibrant support as the one we heard for the Murcian tennis player, who interacts with the public many times, without a doubt more than a myth of this sport as Nadal. From time to time Alcaraz gets out of his way, but the impression is that it depends more on the lack of experience in managing a talent as big as the one he has than on a technical problem: Carlos most likely will not be able to do any. but improve playing and accumulating experience on the circuit, eliminating these phases of tennis “darkness” over time.

Good feelings also for Djokovic, in his best performance of the season (as he himself confirmed in the very short conference held immediately after the end of the match): Despite returning from the first part of the season in which he played just four tournaments, he lost a match that he came very close to winning playing in pairs. for more than three and a half hours against the explosive talent and physical vigor of his very young rival: if his goal is the next Roland Garros and Wimbledon, he leaves Madrid with fairly reassuring signs about his chances of being able to aspire to victory. The world number 9, who is already sure to rise to number 6 in the ATP ranking from next week, with this victory becomes the first to beat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament on clay. and the youngest of twelve players to have been successful in the same tournament.

It is difficult to count 3 hours and 35 minutes of a very balanced game, almost always played at a high level by both, enough to glue the 12,500 madridistas present in Manolo Santana to their seats, good at supporting their idol with the various “Charles, Charles“And a series of” Yes you can”(Yes, it can be done) rhythmically repeatedly in the key moments of the match, without ever transcending the real unsportsmanlike attitude towards Djokovic. In tennis there is no tie and in this aspect lies the great charm and at the same time the injustice of a sport that is confirmed wonderful even in oneself.against generational between a champion with a thousand tennis lives and a young tennis player who seems to have all the stigmas -physical, technical and competitive- to reach the top of the ranking in a short time.

THE MATCH– Carlos Alcaraz wins the tie and chooses to respond: a wise choice, as he immediately breaks his opponent’s serve in the opening. Despite this difficult start, mainly due to a great start from the Spaniard, we immediately see a Djokovic more with the ball than the one seen here in Madrid against Monfils and Hurkacz. After the first round of service lost by the Serbian, Alcaraz wins and experiences difficult moments when he needs it: in the sixth game he annuls the first break point in favor of the world number 1 with a nice inside forehand, but in the eighth game, when Djokovic has a break point again, he hits his backhand into the net and takes the match to 4 all. After 35 minutes from the start, the game is back in perfect balance. However, the Murcian player continues to suffer: when a few minutes later, in the tenth game, he serves again, he is called again to annul a break point that is inevitably a set point, but in this case he is saved. A tie-break is reached without further shock, the successful conclusion of a set in which Djokovic, after having broken at the start, makes his rival reach a maximum of 15 when he serves. Before the decisive game begins alcaraz addresses his audience asking for encouragement, which he receives in abundance, but not enough: in a short time, he loses some easy balls and is under 1-6. The young Spaniard does not give up at this point but attempts a sensational comeback to make it 5-6, but on the fifth set point, in a frantic exchange, he stumbles, tries to get up but then sinks the backhand into the net allowing the world number one to lose the first set after 63 minutes of already very enjoyable tennis.

the second set He meets his first potential turning point moment in game six, when Alacaraz wins a strong break point but plays poorly, wielding a forehand. A mistake that can be paid dearly because at 4 all, called to serve, he finds himself facing two break balls that, if converted, would lead Djokovic to serve for his fourth final in Madrid, but Juan’s pupil Carlos Ferrero manages to save himself. The great deals for #1 don’t end there: in the eleventh game Alcaraz 40-15 is distracted and is forced to face a break point that if converted would send Djokovic at 6-5 and serve, but the player from Murcia makes a drop that forces Nole to send throughout the recovery. East the Serbian champion pays for the run of great missed chances in the next game and is forced to defend against three consecutive set points: in the first he is saved, but in the second Alcaraz, called to the net, makes fun of Nole. After two and ten hours of play again in balance, it is delirium in the Caja Mágica, with the public bursting with uncontrollable joy.

the third set It is the one that both play better: although tired of having two and a half hours of intense and well-played matches behind them, they manage to give their best. Djokovic (calling a medical timeout at the court change after 2-3) must cancel break points in the fourth (three) and sixth (two) games, Alcaraz risks losing his serve during the seventh (in that situation faces some with effect one). When it comes to the tenth game, Djokovic is in the very delicate condition of having to serve to stay in the match and pays in part for the tension by being forced to annul a match point, from which he masterfully saves himself with a direct serve that traveled at 204 km/h, well placed. After three hours and twenty-six minutes of diverse emotions and numerous spectacular points, we reach the tie-break, the unavoidable epilogue of an incredibly balanced match. Alcaraz starts better, who always leads the score until it gets 6-5 and serves: he serves well, directs the exchange and at that moment with a great inside forehand he wins the first final of his career in a Masters 1000 played on clay whipped . .

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The men’s draw of the Madrid tournament

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